Arup appointed on Shakespeare North

Knowsley Council has appointed Arup as its theatre consultant for the Shakespeare North project, in a contract worth £249,220 to the engineering and design group.

Plans to build a £26m Shakespeare North Playhouse and education centre in Prescot were approved by Knowsley in April 2016. In November, Helm Architecture was appointed as lead architect for the scheme, with Austin-Smith: Lord as supporting architect. Mott MacDonald is to provide structural engineering services. AECOM will provide M&E engineering and cost consultancy services and has also been appointed as acoustics consultant.

Shakespeare North Internal CgiThe centrepiece of the facility will be a 350-seat theatre. It is intended that Shakespeare North becomes the tip of a cultural triangle linking the site – which sits metres from Prescot’s former Elizabethan playhouse, at the time the only indoor playhouse in the North of England – to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Stratford site and the Globe Theatre in London.

Construction could start in September 2017, funding permitted. Knowsley Council committed £6m to the project in March 2016, with then-Chancellor George Osborne promising £5m from government in the 2016 Budget.

Images by Forbes Massie courtesy of Helm Architecture

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As if the government haven’t ploughed enough into Merseyside’s cultural infrastructure already.

They fund and recently bailed out NLM, forced the Tate to locate there, funded the museum of Liverpool, the slavery museum, regenerated Albert Dock, financed the arena and Mann Island, paid for the public realm and cruise liner terminal and provided the military and financial underpinning that brought about collection of treasures contained within the World Museum. I could go on.

Shakespeare’s connections with Knowsley are tenuous to say the least so there is no compelling reason for a Shakespeare themed theatre there. With plays are staged across the country and theatres struggling due to local authority cuts due to government imposed austerity, there is simply no justification for a dedicated facility in one place, least of all one imposed by government.

If Knowsley wanted to fund it all themselves fine but grabbing more goodies from central government is grossly unfair when the area already receives and continues to receive vast sums of public money for cultural provision.

Nice building though.

By Mick

Liverpool v Manchester comments inbound in 5,4,3…

By Nordyne

Well Nordyne, It would help if PNW didn’t publish comments like that above by “Mick”.

Flipping arguments heard regarding the controversial £100m Factory development in Manchester in times of austerity to apply to a mere £5m development in Liverpool I think is not only snide and unnecessary but also some of the comments within it well beyond the pale.

If I was a director of NML – to my knowledge one of the better run organisations, including coming up with a significant portion of its own funding – I might not appreciate what I feel is dark propaganda being spread about my organisation.

As for the Tate and any notion that Liverpool receives some sort of unfair weighting, the simple fact is that the city’s cultural attractions are long standing and regularly appear in the UK’s top rankings. Liverpool’s a major asset to the UK, and will be even more so with this rather small spend on a town centre theatre.

Whatever infrastructure funding the Liverpool area gets pales into comparison to elsewhere, and yet it still manages to keep pace. That suggests to me rather good value for money, in Liverpool at least.

By Mike

Would anyone bat an eyelid if this was being built in York or Chester? Good for Knowsley.

By Elephant

‘Knowsley’ borough has no traction outside of a small political cabal, for the rest of us it is simply a metropolitan borough of north Liverpool.

For the theatre to become a success KMBC needs to forget the parish mentality and align itself quickly with Liverpool’s world-class cultural offer and international profile in the arts.

Shakespeare North, Liverpool. vs Shakespeare North, Prescot. Go figure!

By LEighteen

LEighteen makes a valid point.It is a similar scenario to BBC Salford.What parochial nonesense is that? Nobody outside Greater Manchester, believes that Mediacity is anywhere but Manchester.Perhaps Shakespeare North is enough though.

By Elephant

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